February 4th, 2011
The remnants of our tenant’s office, Archicentre
Apologies for lack of communication over the break period – the lack of wi-fi where I was staying in Morocco made it impossible.
I came back to the terrible aftermath of the Queensland floods, which you may not realise also exacted its toll on the Queensland Chapter offices located on Merivale Street, South Brisbane.
I visited the premises last Friday and was shocked to see the extent of flood damage – the ground floor was submerged by about a metre, wiping out all of the meeting rooms, kitchen, toilets, and the Archicentre office. Many thanks to Allen Jack & Cottier, who’ve generously provided temporary accommodation to our Archicentre colleagues. Fortunately, Chapter staff have been able to consolidate operations on the premises’ first floor while the ground floor interior is rebuilt over the coming two months.
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February 4th, 2011
The off peak ice making machines in the Bank of America building
I was in New York late last year working with American consultants assisting me on a major Leed Platinum project in Kuala Lumpur. It was a chance to visit some ecologically responsible buildings, namely the Bank of America Tower (Leed Platinum, Architect Cook+Fox), the Hearst Tower (Leed Gold, Architect Foster+Partners) and the Visionaire (Leed Platinum, Architect Pelli Clarke Pelli).
Of course, these buildings between them employ appropriate choice of materials, highly insulated façade designs, grey water and rainwater harnessing and waste management, photovoltaic and sensored lighting.
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December 8th, 2010
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m thinking Ted Baillieu is the first Australian architect to make the career move to State Premier? Please let me know if I’m wrong and you can identify any predecessors around the country – or even any architects that have held senior cabinet posts. I expect a dearth, but would love to be surprised! I congratulate Ted, who remains an active Institute member, on the transition from architect, to company director, to member of Parliament, Opposition Leader and now Victorian Premier. It’s great to have a head of government with such a sound understanding of the value of architecture and design and the built environment – it bodes well for the future of the State I think. The Institute works in a bipartisan way with ministers and governments around the country – and we look forward to working with Ted over the coming years. While he focused during the election campaign on health, law and order, government expenditure and the longevity and the ability of the former Labor government to deliver, we’ll certainly be hoping to see the built environment on his agenda in the near future.
Now, if we could only have some architects sitting on the benches in NSW…
November 16th, 2010
Last week I went back to Dubai on private business. The city continues to show the obvious effects of the GFC, with half empty or half finished or shelved projects commonplace. For the first time, I ventured to the top of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. When my practice designed the Eureka Tower in Melbourne, it was the tallest building in Australia. The Burj is three times taller. Three times. It’s staggering to contemplate that it’s almost a kilometre high. Without question, it’s an impressive building, and an impressive feat of engineering. There are beautiful moments. But, it inevitably throws up the question: as architects and engineers in today’s computer-driven world where anything’s possible, just because you can do, does it mean you should do it? Let me know what you think.
November 12th, 2010
A recent conversation with a colleague focused on Australia’s place as a key player in the Asian region, and our proximity to some of the largest business markets in the world. Australian architects are often, I think, both keen to move into these markets and daunted by them – in equal measures. They’re often uncertain as to how to break in, and how to succeed. Fortuitously, in recent times I’ve frequently found myself on a plane heading to some of our closest Asian neighbours – particularly Indonesia and Malaysia – for work. As a result, I’ve developed a much greater insight and understanding of differing Asian markets and business cultures. I’d like to encourage other architects to do similarly, not to be timid, to get out there and go for it. If you specialise in a specific building typology, you have an immediate relevancy to the market.
November 8th, 2010
INSPIRE ANAA 2010
Over the past week I’ve been flicking through the Institute’s latest initiative to increase public awareness of the value of architecture – the soon-to-be-released glossy, full colour awards publication ‘Inspire, Australian National Architecture Awards 2010’. It showcases all 2010 chapter and national award winners from around the country. We had a sneak preview at the National Architecture Awards and I was lucky enough to receive one of the first copies, hot off the press and out of customs just hours before the awards ceremony. It’s the first in a series of 10 annual limited edition books highlighting awards winners. Each will be individually numbered, with visual quirks linking the 10 editions to each other – providing a unique collectors-edition record of Australia’s best architecture from 2010 to 2020. I would like to make special mention of David Parken & Katarina Stube for compiling and editing all the information for this first book, along with Clear Design for the graphics, all pulled together within 10 weeks – a mammoth task and great achievement. The book will be launched in Melbourne on Monday 29 November, Brisbane on Thursday 2 December and Sydney Tuesday 7 December, with previews across a number of Asian cities in November. Available at Architext bookshops and www.achitecture.com.au/INSPIRE
November 5th, 2010
Craig Burton, Ken Maher, Leni Borg and Peter Stutchbury
I felt extremely proud to be part of the Australian architectural profession last Friday night as 330 members and guests celebrated the 2010 National Architecture Awards at the National Gallery in Canberra. What an inspiring group of projects and architects received awards and commendations – from a small residential alteration and addition in Tasmania celebrating our heritage (congratulations Maria Gigney for a pearl of a project) to the largest scale public transport facilities, the Epping to Chatswood Rail Link Intermediate Stations by Hassell. Accepting the public architecture award, Ross de la Motte of Hassell said this project in Sydney’s north-west was on the scale of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, with up to 1200 workers deep underground while those above remained mostly oblivious and uninterrupted.
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October 15th, 2010
I was recently invited to RMIT to critique students work by lecturers Craig Douglas and Greg Afflick, who are part of OUTR (Office of Urban Transformation Research), a research laboratory within the School of Architecture & Design at RMIT. It’s a compelling model which effectively brings industry into the educational environment, and offers access to real projects for students. In critiquing the students’ work (the reinvention of the Rio de Janeiro waterfront, a subject of mutual interest to Craig, Greg and I after our visit to Rio late last year), I was struck by their sophisticated enquiry and their prototyping of analytical ideas. Under the solid guidance of experienced tutors and practitioners acting as mentors, with reminders to avoid being seduced by the modeling process in isolation and staying focused on ‘the story’, the depth of imagination these students exhibited augers well for the profession.
October 13th, 2010
Further to my last post, NSW architect Dillon Kombumerri has emailed to let me know of the early formation of an International Network of Indigenous Architects (INIA), of which he’s a member. This group might interact with the educational and cultural aspirations of RAP, and the architecture fraternity nationally. At the moment, INIA is represented by four countries – Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Other members include Patrick Stewart, who was a keynote speaker at our 2007 Indigenous Housing Conference and is a past president of the British Columbia Institute of Architects, and Brian Porter, who runs his own practice- TwoRow Architects (http://www.tworow.com/). Both are extremely important figures in Canada because of their work within indigenous communities. INIA plans to meet for the first time next year, hopefully in Australia. Dillon says that as well as formalising their charter, they’ll look at whether each of their home countries could follow the model set by respected Maori architect Rewi Thompson, in which a Kaumatua (Maori Elder) has been appointed with equal status alongside the NZIA President. The Elder brings a rigorous cultural awareness/support to any strategic and advisory role of the President as well as infusing this knowledge within the profession and graduate program more broadly. Dillon says, in Australia for example, the Elder’s elevated position could add gravitas to many of the aspiring outcomes outlined within the RAP. I wish them every success and look forward to working with them.
October 11th, 2010
Reconciliation Action Plan
When Kevin Rudd issued his much awaited, long overdue public apology to indigenous Australians for past injustices, he set the nation on a path – one in which ‘sorry’ represented and required an ongoing series of positive actions. I feel very proud to have recently attended the launch of one of these – the Victorian Chapter’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). This is an initiative begun during my time as Victorian Chapter President and one that’s been 18 months in development. We’re bringing it to National Council as a template, in the hope that it will be embraced by other Chapters. At present, I believe there are only 10 registered indigenous architects in Australia, and we were very fortunate to have both Reuben Berg and Jefa Greenaway at the launch, along with a member of the indigenous band Jarrah. Mark Liebler also presented a heartfelt talk. RAP represents our commitment to indigenous Australians to offer enhanced opportunities to learn about and prosper from architecture. As caretakers of this land for 30,000 years, architectural practitioners also have much to learn from indigenous Australians, and it’s our hope that RAP facilitates this. Congratulations to all involved, in particular the RAP Working Party and Advisory Groups.
The RAP PDF is available at http://www.architecture.com.au/vic. Check out Jarrah at http://www.jarrahband.com/